Armed Forces of the Philippines: Guardian of Freedom and Democracy

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which celebrated its 76th Anniversary on December 21, 2011, has remained steadfast and unwavering in its duty to protect the Filipino people and safeguard national integrity and sovereignty through the years. The AFP is divided into three main services - Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, and Philippine Air Force. The Philippine Army trains and organizes land forces to conduct combat operations and execute national defense plans. The Philippine Navy, composed of the Philippine Fleet and Philippine Marine Corps, protects the 1,250,000-square kilometer Philippine territorial waters. The Philippine Air Force carries on air operations in anti-insurgency and other campaigns. The AFP has a total active strength of 120,000 with more than 130,000 personnel in the reserve service.

As the nation's guardian of freedom and democracy, the AFP has upgraded its capability, defend and guard Philippine territory. The Philippine Navy has acquired its biggest warship, the Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas Gregorio del Pilar, and the first Filipino-made Landing Craft Utility Tagbanua. The Philippine Air Force has acquired 18 new SF-260FH trainer aircraft. The Philippine Army has acquired 23 High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (Humvee) ambulances. This year, civil society organizations created the "Bantay Bayanihan" serving as "an engagement of civil society and AFP," to help create a positive atmosphere for the ongoing peace talks.

In consonance with the Aquino administration's national security thrust involving four elements - governance, delivery of basic services, economic reconstruction and sustainable development, and security sector reform - the AFP launched on January 1, 2011, the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan, a shift from a militaristic into a people-centered approach to "win the peace" rather than to defeat the enemy. …